dinkyboy61‘s· YouTube video of the parking lot at the USA Alfa Romeo Convention 2013
I drove my Alfetta Sprint Veloce to the Alfa Romeo Association of California’s 2011 All Italian Car and Motorcycle Show last Sunday.
I took the photo (left) of my car and started thinking, was Sports Car Market correct? In an Affordable Classics article from the September, 2007, the author used the phrase, “Along with wretched refuse like the Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT…” The photograph seems to bear that out; it appears that nobody wanted to park next to my Alfetta. The reality was that it was late in the afternoon and the cars that had been parked next to the Alfetta earlier in the morning had left.
My Sprint Veloce was the only coupe present that represented the Alfa Romeo Alfetta family but there was an Alfetta sedan too (plus several GTV-6s). There were plenty of Alfa Romeos, Ferraris, Fiats, a few Panteras, a few Lancias, a few Maseratis, and a lot of motorcycles – everything was interesting to me.
I re-coated the two-piece cast iron exhaust headers on my Alfa Romeo with Eastwood Silver High Temp Manifold Coating. When I first painted them two years ago, the surface preparation consisted of running a wire wheel on the rusty cast iron. The Eastwood coating lasted well, though small rust spots eventually appeared through the coating. Last week, I cleaned the headers with lacquer thinner and applied another coat.
To keep the headers attached to the head, I used brass M8x1.0 hex nuts, new lock washers and new copper gaskets.
I was having trouble seeing the turn signal indicator in my 1979 Alfa Romeo Sprint Veloce. Though I am relatively old if you’re young, I didn’t want to look that way driving down 101 with my turn signals on.
When the original thermal turn signal flasher gave up, I replaced it with an electronic flasher. With the engine off I can hear it clicking very clearly – I can’t hear it while the engine is running unless the fuse box is open and I stick my head next to it – not a good driving position since the fuse box is just above the floor.
Probably 40 years ago, I made a turn signal amplifier using a 555 integrated circuit and a Mallory Sonalert. It was annoying, sort of like the beepers that some vehicles have when they’re backing up.
I started looking for a brighter lamp for the turn signal indicator that is mounted below the tachometer. The OEM lamp is a 74 Miniature Indicator Lamp – 14 Volt – T1-3/4 Sub Mini Wedge Base. In bright sunlight, it’s difficult to see if the OEM lamp is flashing. I found an LED replacement lamp that is essentially a SMT LED stuck on the end of a plastic tube with a diode and resistor to drop the voltage. It had the necessary wedge base. I had to file the sides down a little so it would fit in the lamp holder, but it was worth the $5.50. It’s bright enough to see in direct sunlight, but not so bright that it’s too annoying at night.
A little over two months ago, an incompetent driver slammed into my parked Alfa Romeo. The Alfetta was in the body shop for 46 days while I argued with State Farm over the value of the car and searched for replacement parts.
I was lucky to find some Euro-bumpers on AlfaBB.com. Larry Jr., at Alfa Parts Exchange was more than helpful in getting me grills and headlight buckets. I was up in Berkeley, so I made a personal appearance at Alfa Parts and bought a reproduction turn signal lens, complete with white gasket. Skip, at J & J Autobody in Monterey, did very nice sheet metal work.
Daniel Stern only had a 5.75 inch Cibie H4 headlamp. I had great difficulty finding a 5.75 inch, flat face, Cibie H1 headlamp. A deep Google search for Cibie “flat face” led me to Joe English, owner of Group2 Motorsports for the H1 headlamp. The last thing I’m waiting for are some Osram SilverStar H1 bulbs I bought on eBay.
In the end, it’s an experience I prefer not to have gone through.
The body shop called today to point out some rust they found when they removed the rear bumper (like I didn’t know about this). I guess what they really wanted to tell me was that it was going to cost more money.
I had ladled POR-15 Rust Preventive Paint on the sheet metal above the left bumper shock six years ago when I saw it looking not so good. I tried to put out of my mind the rust that I could see inside the bumper where the rubber had split.
Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money…
So far the body shop has repaired rust in the front rocker panels, around the base of the windshield on the passenger side (without removing the glass), around the right windshield wiper drive shaft, on the door under the driver’s side window, around the rear bumper shock, below the bottom edge of the rear window and the trailing edge of the trunk lid.
Over the years I had treated those areas with POR-15 and/or Eastwood Rust Encapsulator Paint and that seemed to slow the oxidation down almost completely.
I’d previously done my bush league repair work on the rust on the inner front fender wells and a large hole in the spare tire well – my first attempts at using fiberglass. Those repairs look great if you don’t look at them.
After haggling with State Farm Insurance over the value of my car, they agreed to pay for the repairs caused by their insured, errant driver.
Since the front end was being worked on, I decided to pay the body shop for some additional work, mainly replacing the Swiss-cheesed rocker panels behind the front wheel wells. Wolf Steel actually sells the lower front fender repair panels, but when I called them, they said it’d take at 3 weeks to get them. J & J Autobody in Monterey, where the car is being repaired, fabricated the panels and also replaced some of the rusted inner wheel well.
I was also lucky enough to find some Euro bumpers, so I thought it would be a good time to put them on too. Someone had made a bracket for the front that attached to the existing bumper shocks. Unfortunately, they were pop riveted together, so the shop took it apart and put in bolts. I guess the Euro bumper mounts lower so they used snips to remove some metal from the top outer corners so it would clear the front fender a little better.
The body shop also pointed out that the door panels were rusting at the bottom. I’m already spending more than the insurance company paid (and more money than I have) so I told them that was a back burner operation. It’s polyester resin (Bondo) time, for now. That started me thinking about taking off the inner door panels and going at it with Eastwood Rust Encapsulator.
I also have to give a plug to Larry Jr, at Alfa Parts Exchange for going the extra distance to help me with replacement parts. When the body shop told me the car needed a RF fender, the front upper and lower valence, Larry went out an procured an Alfetta for the parts.
I was shopping at the supermarket and came out to this scene. The police officer said the driver was trying to park and she stepped on the accelerator. Go figure.
Her car went up and across a ten foot divider, slammed into my parked car and knocked it eight feet out of its parking space. The Alfa’s right front fender is folded in half at the impact point. The body shop said the fender was irreparable. The Cibie headlights are toast. The apron is pushed into the hood, which won’t open. The frame the radiator is mounted to is bent. The bumper is broken.
The PO at the scene thanked me several times for my equanimity. WTF could I do?
It’s not that I love this car, but I have put a lot of work into it. Next time I park, I’ll make sure there is a tree in front of my car. Like that would make a difference with my luck.